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- Commentary on Coronary Heart Disease
[Note: The following overview comes from a Research Bulletin on Coronary Heart Disease, Copyright © 1987 by the Edgar Cayce Foundation, Virginia Beach, VA.]
Heart disease is the most important cause of mortality and morbidity in the industrialized world today. In the United States, a third of all deaths are from coronary heart disease, with myocardial infarctions (heart attacks) occurring at a rate of approximately three a minute. By the age of 60, one in five men has had a heart attack. It is no wonder then that coronary heart disease is considered Public Enemy #1 in regards to our health.
Edgar Cayce gave 54 readings for 40 individuals encompassing the full range of this disease process from those he warned of the early stages of atherosclerotic plaque formation to one man who had already had two heart attacks. In these readings, he presented a fairly consistent therapeutic approach. Some of his suggestions are in keeping with the best research scientific medicine has to offer, while other present a new perspective on the dynamics occurring and are worthy of investigation.
The two major clinical manifestations of coronary heart disease are myocardial infarction and angina pectoris. The underlying problem in both is that the oxygen supply will not keep up with the oxygen demand. The most common reason for this is the partial or complete occlusion of the blood vessels with calcified, ulcerated and fibrotic fat deposits (atherosclerotic lesions). In fact, it is estimated that 95% of all coronary heart disease is due to these atherosclerotic plaques.
Despite intensive research, the exact cause of atherosclerosis is still unknown! However, it is known to be the culmination of a slow process which begins in infancy and childhood in the form of deposits of fatty streaks. It has also been strongly linked with a number of risk factors, the five primary ones being: 1) increased serum cholesterol 2) hypertension 3) smoking 4) diabetes and 5) a strong family history of the disease. Other risk factors include a stressful lifestyle, inactivity, increased serum uric acid, elevated serum homocysteine, and a disproportionate intake of fat in the diet.
The Edgar Cayce readings propose that these "growths ...of an insidious nature" result from a combination of poor eliminations, an unbalanced circulation, and a diet productive of an "excess of avoirdupois" or fat in the bloodstream. The body systems given as interacting to produce this situation included the liver, the colon, and the spine. In each individual case, these three interacted differently to produce the same general result.
- LIVER: In General terms the liver's role in assimilation and elimination of fats was recognized (the liver eliminates 95% of the cholesterol that is removed from the body daily.) and in several cases, an engorged or congested liver affected both of these functions. Liver dysfunction was also stated to cause some of the problems with the colon discussed below.
- COLON: The colon played a central role in the entire spectrum of this disease process. In the early stages of plaque formation, a colon engorgement or prolapsus was given as the cause of "toxins or poisons" remaining in the system. These poisons would then "break down in the very cells or ducts through which they were flowing". The stressed colon was also seen as playing a central role in unbalancing the circulation, leading to descriptions of a slowed circulation between the liver and heart or to a generally increased blood pressure. In the early stages, this effect on the circulation was seen to promote the formation of the atherosclerotic plaques. once the plaques were formed, the disturbed circulation played the central role in causing anginal pain or a heart attack. The role of hypertension in plaque formation and subsequently in stressing the heart is well known in traditional medicine - the very new concept from the readings is the role the colon might play in this process. An exact mechanism for this interaction was not given in the Edgar Cayce readings reviewed for this bulletin.
- SPINAL LESIONS: Were seen as affecting the balance between the sympathetic nervous system and the cerebrospinal system. This in turn would affect the flow through the sympathetic nerves to the internal organs and to the blood vessels. In the individual with coronary heart disease, these lesions could become involved in one of two ways. First, lesions in the upper to mid dorsals played a direct role in the circulatory balance between the heart, liver and lungs and could place stress on the heart. Second, lesions in the lumbar area affected blood flow to the colon and could contribute to colon difficulties as discussed above in Section #2.
Two other factors played a role in the etiology of the atherosclerotic plaque and hence, in coronary artery disease. The first of these was diet.
Diet is now known to play a direct role in determining our blood cholesterol levels. To quote William Castelli, M.D., medical director of the famous Framingham Study, "Every single diet trial done to date, all show that for each 1% decrease in cholesterol, you get a 2-3% decrease in the rate of heart attacks.1 As we will see in the treatment section, the Cayce readings consistently recommended a diet which is known to lower blood cholesterol.
The second factor, balance, is a bit more complicated. A combination of factors in the body could produce "a lack of balance in the chemical forces of the assimilating system" and affect the lacteal ducts in the small intestine. The majority of fats, unlike proteins and carbohydrates which go through the bloodstream to the liver, are absorbed through the lacteal ducts into the lymph circulation before eventually joining the blood. Cayce implied that fats at times were assimilated incorrectly and that this could also contribute to the formation of these "lymph pockets" (a fascinating reference to the atherosclerotic plaques since the lymph carries the digested fat).
While the exact etiology of coronary heart disease varied from individual to individual, the factors given by the Edgar Cayce readings were consistently the same.
- First, an improper diet and poor assimilation producing poisons in the system.
- Second, an inability through the colon and occasionally the liver to deal with these poisons with proper eliminations.
- Third, an unbalanced circulation produced through colon engorgement and or spinal lesions, which contributed to these poisons forming the atherosclerotic lesions and is in the later stages of the disease, placing a direct burden on the heart.
Therapy varied somewhat on an individual to individual basis, but several approaches appeared consistently in the readings on coronary heart disease. As noted earlier, these 54 readings were given for individuals in all stages of this disease process. Interestingly, reflecting the reading's contention that hydrotherapy and osteopathy could help any situation, the treatments recommended were fairly consistent regardless of the severity of the condition. What did vary were the specifics of application and the care with which a specific therapy needed to be given.
The Cayce reading's approach to coronary heart disease included the following major areas:
1. DIET (78%)
The three most commonly suggested changes in the diet were the elimination of red meat, fried foods, and fats. It is now clear from numerous studies that these diet changes will lower one's total blood cholesterol and also changes the ratio of the different lipids in the blood. The role of 5 different types of cholesterol in the bloodstream is becoming known, with LDL (Low density lipoprotein) being recognized as the "worst actor." In contrast, one of these five HDL (high-density lipoprotein), is now known to bring fats back to the liver for processing and elimination and is now considered desirable. Traditional medicine currently considers it important to look at the total cholesterol/HDL ratio, with a ratio of 4.5 and higher being considered dangerous. Half of all American men and women have ratios of 4.5 and higher. The vegetarians in the Framingham Study were found to have an average ratio of 2.8 William Castelli, M.D., director of the Framingham Study, cited 15 trials using coronary artery angiography which showed that if an elevated cholesterol level is not brought down, 80% of the atherosclerotic plaques are worse in 2-10 years. However, if the cholesterol was brought down below 200, 80% of these lesions showed no progression over the same time span.2 Hence, it becomes obvious that a change in diet would be beneficial at any stage of this disease process.
The Cayce readings do state that chicken and fish are not prohibited. In one reading, he told the individual that the oils from these and olive oil would be beneficial for him. This is interesting, in light of research showing fish oil can raise one's HDL thus improving one's total cholesterol HDL ratio. In addition, monosaturated fats, (77% of the composition of olive oil) have now been shown to not only lower total cholesterol and LDL (the "bad actor") like polyunsaturated fats do, but also actually increase the proportion of HDL cholesterol.3
Among the populations looked at in a seven country study, Crete, Finland, the Netherlands, and the U.S. obtained 40% of their calories from fat. The incidence of coronary heart disease and myocardial infarction was highest among the seven nations in the latter three. In Crete, where the fat consumed is primarily olive oil, the rate of this disease is near zero.4
2. OSTEOPATHIC MANIPULATIONS (75%) - MASSAGE (23%)
Osteopathic manipulation and massages - These were often recommended to help balance the sympathetic nervous system. If the lesion corrected was in the mid-dorsals, this would impact on the circulation between the heart, liver and lungs and on the heart directly. Correction of lumbo-sacral lesions enhanced the circulation around and functioning of the colon. Definitive research on these corrections is still lacking. However, with angiography, the contraction and relaxation of the coronary arteries has been graphically visualized. This flux in size is mediated by the sympathetic nervous system and may play a role in diminishing cardiac blood flow during an attack.
The Edgar Cayce readings propose that adjustments would help balance the circulation and play a role in lowering blood pressure, both placing less strain on the heart.
In several readings, it was plainly stated that the manipulation or massage would help relieve the burden on the central circulation. One individual was told the adjustments would help distribute the circulation "below the waistline." Another person was told that massages with cocoa butter in the evening would "help stimulate the superficial circulation."
The specific approach to a patient (manipulation vs. massage) appeared to vary with the severity of their illness. In one younger male, without any clinical problems, the readings advised deep osteopathic manipulations, especially from the 9th thoracic vertebrae up. In contrast, in another individual with angina, he was very specific that manipulations should only be from the 9th thoracic vertebrae and below so as not "to overstrain the heart and lung activity". Similarly, 3 individuals were instructed to receive "osteopathic massages", conveying the impression of a much gentler mode of therapy. Certainly, the need for some professional judgment in deciding what type and force of manipulations or massage would be needed and appropriate in each case. As a general rule, however, the further along the symptoms, the more gentle the application.
3. COLONICS (68%)
Colonic irrigation of the colon was recommended for 27 individuals in all stages of this disease process. The role of this cleansing was to improve the eliminations and help remove "poisons" from the bloodstream. Also, for those individuals experiencing clinical symptoms like angina pectoris, reducing the "pressures in the colon" would directly relieve the strain on the heart and would also lower the blood pressure. Very little research has ever been done with colonics, and to my knowledge, none is available to support or contradict this concept.
The method for giving these colonics was fairly well specified. First, especially with advanced disease, it was emphasized that these should be given "professionally and scientifically" in a positive but gentle manner. The individual giving the colonic was instructed to watch the pulse closely and to make sure too great a strain was not placed on the body. The colonic water itself was to be body temperature with a level tablespoon of salt and a level teaspoon of soda added to each gallon of water. The final rinse waters were to contain glyco-thymoline. Colonics were to be spaced approximately every ten days apart and were to continue as long as there was an indication of mucous in the colon. Again, it was emphasized that these were not to place a strain on the body, and so individuals were warned not to completely empty the colon the first time. Instead, this was to be done gradually over several treatments.
4. REST (43%)
Rest - The recommendation to rest, both physically and emotionally, was given 17 times by the Cayce readings to individuals who were experiencing clinical symptoms of ischemic heart disease. This advice is logical, as activity or excitement of any kind places a stress on the heart, and thereby causes the heart muscle to require more oxygen. The readings indicated that as the condition improved, activity could be gradually increased again. He was so adamant about this, that he told one individual to continue taking sedatives (something the readings generally deplored) if that was necessary to help her rest. Often, combined with the recommendation to rest, was the suggestion to spend more time outdoors (13%). In contrast with this, for one individual with only early pre-symptomatic disease, exercise was recommended as being useful.
5. RADIO-ACTIVE [RADIAL] APPLIANCE (25%)
The readings recommended the use of the radio-active appliance (also called the radial appliance and impedance device) to 10 individuals. This device, which essentially consists of a capacitor and a resistor in parallel, was stated to use the body's own electrical force to help equalize the circulation. It was also seen as being helpful "to quiet and ease the body without disturbing the other portions of the system". Some basic research done on this device has found no currents or voltages in the wires connected to an individual. However, preliminary findings showed that the appliance did reduce the small electrical potential differences which exist externally between different portions of the body. In a series of experiments done at Duke University in the 1950's, it was observed that a drop in these potential differences was associated with an increased sense of well-being.5 Research on how the impedance device might help balance an individuals circulation is still needed.
6. ABDOMINAL PACKS
Five different types of abdominal packs were recommended for seven different individuals. The purpose of these varied from helping the liver to function properly again to assisting in cleansing the colon.
7. MEDICATION (23%)
Advice regarding medication - The Cayce readings presented a fairly balanced perspective on the use of medication with ischemic heart disease. Explaining that the available medications were palliative only, he recommended one individual gradually taper their use. He did instruct another 5 people, however, to continue their medicine to help them through acute clinical conditions until the other suggested therapies could be of some benefit. The specific medication suggestions he made were in regard to the use of several forms of digitalis, which was used at that time to help individuals with heart disease. Numerous other drugs are now available and digitalis is no longer used in this capacity.
8. DRAW CIRCULATION TO LEGS (13%)
A variety of recommendations were made to increase the circulation in the extremities in an attempt to help relieve the strain on the sluggish deep circulation. Suggestions included massage, manipulations, applying a combination of olive oil and tincture of benzoin, and simply keeping the feet warm.
9. A number of therapies were recommended in less than 10% of the 40 cases. All of these appear to fall into the category of individualized suggestions and probably should not be considered in the general treatment of coronary heart disease.
In review, the therapies suggested by the Cayce Readings appear intended to accomplish two main objectives. First, through the use of colonics, adjustments, rest, and the radio-active [radial] appliance, the circulation was to be balanced and the strain on the heart to be relieved. Second, through changes in the diet and improved eliminations, together with the improved circulation, the poisons in the system were to be eliminated and the progression of the disease was to be impeded.
Traditional medical science is beginning to examine some drugless therapies. One study of note involved a group of patients with angina who were placed in an intensive program of stress management and dietary change. For twenty four days, the subjects lived in a rural setting on a vegetarian diet, and were made to meditate and exercise for five hours a day. The incidence of anginal attacks fell from an average of ten a day to one; exercise capacity improved by forty-four percent; blood cholesterol fell by twenty percent; heart muscle function improved; and many patients had either to stop or reduce their dose of blood pressure medicine.6
Hopefully, in the next several years, further studies will be performed to either confirm or contradict the model of the etiology and treatment of coronary artery disease as presented in the Edgar Cayce readings.
- 1. Castelli, W.: quoted from the videotape, "The Lipid Connection in Antihypertensive Therapy" from Sandoz Pharmaceutical.
- 2. Ibid.
- 3. Mattson, F.H.: Monounsaturated fatty acids as cholesterol-lowering agents. Perspective in Lipid Disorder, 5:1, p. 17, 1987.
- 4. Keys, A. (ed.): Coronary Heart Disease in Seven Countries. American Heart Association. Monograph No. 29, 1970.
- 5. Cited from Cayce, E.E.: Two electrical appliances described in the Edgar Cayce readings (pamphlet), Oct. 1965.
- 6. Ornish, D., et al: Effects of Stress-Management Training and Dietary changes in treating ischemic heart disease. JAMA, Jan. 7, 1983, p. 54